The animator, Michael Gawlik, with blonde hair, black glasses, and a red shirt

From the Animator

I don't remember learning one thing about LGBTQ+ history in high school.

It's possible I came across queer people in my coursework, but their sexuality was never explicitly mentioned. There were never discussions about transgender soldiers in the Civil War. Never a handout describing the effects of the AIDS crisis on the gay community. Stonewall, arguably the best-known moment in queer history, meant nothing to me until after I graduated.

My history teachers throughout school were wonderful, and none of this is meant as an indictment of them. It is, however, an indictment of a society that continues to regard LGBTQ+ history as unworthy of attention. As of April 2021, only five US states require teaching queer history as part of social studies curriculums (while five others ban any positive depiction of homosexuality). Queer topics have been almost entirely excluded from K-12 textbooks. And even in places where queer history is required, teachers often lack resources and opportunities that will help them incorporate LGBTQ+ topics into existing curriculums.

I'm not a teacher, and this project is no substitute for a true LGBTQ+ history course. Nor do I speak for the entire LGBTQ+ community, which is filled with diverse experiences and perspectives. But I hope Animating Queer History can provide LGBTQ+ people—particularly those who are young—with the opportunity to see themselves in the past. Historians have argued that learning about people, places, and events that resemble us can validate our experiences and identities. For too long, queer people have been denied a history that can expand their sense of self.

If you’re a queer person looking at this site, I hope you find something that changes the way you think about yourself. And if you’re not queer, I hope this site reveals something that can help you support your LGBTQ+ family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors. Growing up queer is tough—let's work together to make it a bit easier.


About the Animator

Michael Gawlik (he/him/his) is an animator, designer, and public historian. He received a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Michigan and is currently completing a master's degree in visual communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. When he's not animating, Michael enjoys baking, running, and watching indecent amounts of reality television. Feel free to share your thoughts and questions with him at

How Was This Project Made?

Quite a bit of research went into this project. If you want to learn more about my sources, my analysis of existing queer historical scholarship, and the theoretical framework that informs my approach, take a look at the written document that accompanies this project.

Special Thanks to...

Terence Oliver for his mentorship, teaching, and passion.

Laura Ruel and Anne Whisnant for their guidance and insights.

Gregory Parker for his critiques, ideas, and encouragement.

Alicia Carter, Hadley Green, Giulia Heyward, and Amari Pollard for their feedback and friendship.

And Mom, Dad, and Kayla for their love, support, and all those phone calls that keep me grounded.